FDA Recognizes Australia as Having a Comparable Food Safety System to the U.S.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has signed an arrangement with the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources recognizing each other’s food safety systems as comparable to each other. This is the third time that the FDA has recognized a foreign food safety system as comparable, the first being New Zealand in 2012 and Canada in 2016.

By recognizing each other’s systems, the FDA and Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources have confidence that they can leverage each other’s science-based regulatory systems to help ensure food safety. For example, each partner intends to consider the oversight of the other when prioritizing inspection activities, but the benefits go beyond inspection and admissibility. Systems recognition establishes a framework for regulatory cooperation in a variety of areas that range from scientific collaboration to outbreak response.

Systems recognition involves reviewing a foreign country’s domestic food safety regulatory system to determine if it has a food safety system that provides a similar system of food safety protection to that provided by the FDA. Domestic systems provide the baseline level of public health protection that helps assure the safety of exported foods from that country. Systems recognition also helps the FDA focus more on potential risks when planning the scope and frequency of its inspection activities, including foreign facility inspections, import field exams, and import sampling.

The FDA, working with Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, conducted a systems recognition review and assessment using the International Comparability Assessment Tool. The process includes a comprehensive review of key elements of the country’s national food safety control system such as its relevant laws and regulations, inspection programs, response to food-related illness and outbreaks, compliance and enforcement and laboratory support.

Systems recognition is voluntary and not required in order for a country to export foods to the U.S. The FDA continues to have inspection authority over food imported from any country with which it has an arrangement and can exercise this authority as needed. Imports from Australia must continue to comply with U.S. statutory and regulatory requirements to ensure safety and proper labeling, including the new standards adopted under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.

For more information see:

(Source: FDA website)

Veterinary Agreement to boost EU-New Zealand trade in animal products

Technical amendments to the EU-New Zealand Agreement on sanitary measures in live animals and animal products have recently been made to boost existing trade relations. This updated agreement, which has been in place since 1996, is the most advanced international bilateral agreement in the area of animal health, animal welfare and food safety systems.

Key innovative features that will lead to further trade opportunities whilst reducing costs for exporters are:

  • Enhanced equivalence provisions including EU standards for raw milk products;
  • Mutual recognition of microbiological controls and chemical testing standards for seafood;
  • Trade conditions to permit trade in certain products with agreed treatments during disease outbreaks;
  • Reduced physical inspection rates on products;
  • Resumption of fresh pig meat exports to New Zealand; and
  • Simplified certification and a move to electronic certification in 2016.

Worth €427 million in 2014, EU agricultural exports to New Zealand have increased significantly with a 20% annual average growth over the last five years. Several key commodities have also experienced high growth over recent years including pork products and cheese. New Zealand has authorised imports of high value raw milk products, such as Roquefort, Camembert and Emmental and fresh pig meat, from the EU. Both these products have significant potential for growth.  New Zealand was also the very first country in the world to re-authorise exports of EU beef following the BSE crisis.

Other important benefits of cooperation between the EU and New Zealand are:

  • The EU and New Zealand are complementary suppliers of high-quality products.  Because New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere, their production and exports peak in a way that is counter-cyclical to EU pastoral producers.  This means products from New Zealand complement those from the EU, maintaining year round availability of certain products.
  • The EU is New Zealand’s largest source of imported goods and services.
  • Through the mutual recognition of regionalisation under the Agreement, trade in animal products such as pork to continue, despite recent EU outbreaks of African Swine Fever, from regions that remain unaffected by the disease.

These benefits bring substantial economic incentives and maintain sustainable trade flows between both parties.

For more details:

Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2015/1084 of 18 February 2015 approving on behalf of the European Union certain amendments to Annexes II, V, VII and VIII to the Agreement between the European Community and New Zealand on sanitary measures applicable to trade in live animals and animal products (notified under document C(2015) 797), OJ L 175, 4.7.2015, p. 45–123.

(Source: DG Sante website)